The Milky Way over Lough Gill – Sligo

The Milky Way over Lough Gill

Hello fellow photographers! This time I tried my hand at one of the most fascinating fields in photography, in my opinion. It is also a field that requires a lot of commitment and experience, while I’m just a rookie. Night photography has the charm of bringing into view the unseen, it allows to capture through our lens and sensors something that is not visible to the naked eye. Of course, after the image is captured, post processing and editing will help emphasizing those elements that our eyes couldn’t see, and give to the composition a final ethereal touch.

In this case, the “unseen” I have tried to emphasize is the core of our galaxy, the Milky Way. To capture it a combination of factors is required: a dark night with possibly no moon or new moon, a place far from light pollution of urban centres, and a clear sky. The centre of the galaxy is not always above the horizon though, therefore you need to check when it rises and sets on one of the many apps for astrophotography.

Finally, a decent camera and a lens with a very wide aperture are a huge help in capturing the dim light of most distant stars during an exposure short enough to prevent the “trail effect” due to Earth’s rotation..

Yeah, as you can imagine, ideal conditions are not there every day, that’s why my alarm was set at 4 AM last night, to allow me to reach my location and try to capture as much as possible of our galaxy in its best moment, in one of the rare nights with a clear sky here in the west coast of Ireland.

I hope you enjoy the image and I would love to hear your advice before my next attempt to capture the stars.

Location: Lough Gill, County Sligo, Ireland.

What to shoot: From Hazelwood you can enjoy a nice view of the lake, surrounded by trees on both side, facing the hills. When the tide is low, surfacing rocks are a good element to add interest to the foreground.

Ideal time to shoot: Sunrise and nights.

Gear: Wide angles to Standard zooms.

Coordinates: 54.257863, -8.426491


Gondolas at St. Mark’s Square

Gondolas at St. Mark’s Square

For a change, a picture that brings me back to Venice, my hometown. It has been a while since I had the opportunity to take some photographs of its beauty and I’m starting to look forward to visiting it again next spring.

If you happen to be in Venice with your camera, you’ll be surely taking pictures of St. Mark’s square. It is difficult to be original, but giving it a try is always worth it, and most of the times it is also good fun.

To get “my personal” shot of a much photographed scene here I went for a portrait format image and a wide angle lens. The wide angle lens made the church and bell tower in the back ground look even smaller and more distant than what they actually are, but at the same time it allowed to bring into the scene other elements close to me, like the eroded steps in the foreground, adding an extra layer to the composition and more depth to the image.

Location: St. Mark’s square, Venice, Italy.

What to shoot: Plenty of choice, from the gondolas on the lagoon side to the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), the lively street life of St. Mark’s Square and the Old Procuracies, or the still beauty of the Bridge of Sighs.

Ideal time to shoot: Sunrise and night.

Gear: Wide angles to Standard zooms.

Coordinates: 45.433292, 12.339987

Fanad Head Lighthouse – Donegal

Fanad Head Lighthouse

Dear fellow photographers, this week exploration of Irish best photographic spots brings us straight to the North, in Donegal, where one of the most beautiful lighthouses of the world stands. The Fanad Head Lighthouse marks the entrance into Lough Swilly, one of the very few Irish glacial fjords, and was built in 1812 following the shipwreck of a British Royal Navy frigate. Only one man made it to the shore alive, but he died soon after leaving no survivors out of the more than 250 members of the crew.

Now it is one of the 70 operating lighthouses illuminating the coast of Ireland, and a great subject for any lover of landscape photography.

Location: Fanad Head lighthouse, Co. Donegal, Ireland.

What to shoot: The operating lighthouse adds an interesting element to an already gorgeous coast.

Ideal time to shoot: This spot can be photographed at any time of the day and night. The first light of the day at sunrise can be easily captured just behind the lighthouse tower during summer. It is a great spot for night photography both for stars lover and northern lights seeker (with a bit of luck).

Gear: Wide angles to Standard zooms.

Coordinates: 55.276048, -7.632306

Mullaghmore at Dusk – Ireland

Mullaghmore at dusk

Dear fellow photographers, finally we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day here in the north west of Ireland. After weeks of rain and wind, it’s really something, and even less excuses not to take your camera out.

This week image is one of the simplest composition I can think of. There is barely a subject! This can be quite a challenge most of the times, and could put us off from even trying and get an image. Nevertheless It’s always worthy to look for the elements of a possible good composition around us. An interesting sky at dusk and few rocks swept by the waves are just the perfect training ground for any photographer with an interest in seascape.

My tip: when you lack a clear subject, pay even more attention to the basic rules of composition. The rule of thirds for example. Make a decision about what you want to highlight in your image and compose placing the horizon line accordingly. In my image for example, I decided to give more importance to the sea and the rocks in the foreground, therefore I composed with the horizon line on the upper third.

Another key element of an image lacking a strong subject is playing with contrast. In this case the more obvious contrast is between the silky, white water licking the solid, dark rocks. A second source of contrast is given by the warm light of dusk and the gloomy clouds in the sky.

Location: Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland.

What to shoot: Seascape offers many opportunities here. The rocky coast exposed to the west allows to play with its different shapes when the light of the setting sun throws a gorgeous glow on the view.

Ideal time to shoot: Sunset and dusk are probably the best moments to capture the beauty of this part of coast.

Gear: Wide angles to Standard zooms.

Coordinates: 54.464857, -8.467437

Twelve Pines Island – Connemara

Twelve Pines Island

Dear fellow photographers, this week our trip to discover most iconic photographic spots across Ireland brings us to another hidden gem in this fabulous country. If you made it up to Galway and really want to add some landscape shots to your trip, I strongly suggest to drive east for about one hour towards Connemara. The drive itself is worth the time, moreover you’ll come across to Pines Island, a tiny island nested on Derryclare Lough, which really seems to come out from a fairy tale.

My special tip: the path connecting Pines Island to the mainland works wonderfully as a guideline, leading the eye of the observer through your composition and adding an interesting contrast between the flat surface of the water and the rocky paving of the path. Take advantage of it!

Location: Pines Island, Twelve Bens, Co. Galway, Ireland.

What to shoot: The little island stands on a gorgeous background formed by the sharp peaks of a mountain range called Twelve Pins or Twelve Bens.

Ideal time to shoot: The blue and golden hours before sunrise are my favourite moments. A calm day offers the added bonus of flat water and gorgeous reflexions.

Gear: Wide angles to Standard zooms.

Coordinates: 53.462389, -9.795743

Benbulben – County Sligo

Benbulben – County Sligo

Hey fellow photographers! Last time we were in Donegal photographing the snowy summit of one of the most iconic mountains of the region: Mount Errigal.

This time we kept hunting for iconic mountains and we were lucky enough to find snow again, not so common in Ireland. Our shooting brought us to one of the most picturesque beaches in the north west, Streedagh beach, which is also a fantastic place for surfers and wild campers, with the added bonus of being still out of the most popular tourist routes.

The beach faces the ocean and the cliffs of Donegal on one side, on the other side it looks over a quite bay and the peculiar rock formation of Benbulben, the most recognizable mountain in County Sligo, and the objective of our photo session.

Streedagh beach is really a gorgeous spot both for action seeker photographers with surfers hitting the beach all year round. The rocks on the left offers a good vantage point to shoot the action in the ocean without getting wet. Landscapers can walk on the beachside, bay side and over the dunes to find the best views towards Donegal cliffs or the Dartry mountains towards Sligo.

Location: Streedagh beach, Co. Sligo, Ireland.

What to shoot: The Benbulben is a great photographic option thanks to its peculiar shape. Shooting from Stredagh beach adds the benefit of a flat water bay in the foreground. On a lucky day reflections are spectacular.

Ideal time to shoot: Sunrises and sunsets. It’s pretty dark here, night photography is also an option even though I have not tried it myself.

Gear: Standard zooms to tele lens.

Coordinates: 54.404753, -8.558747

Mount Errigal – Donegal

Mount Errigal – Donegal

Hey fellow photographers, hope the beginning of the new year has brought you great inspiration and gorgeous pictures. I went back to one of my favourite places here in the North of Ireland, Donegal, to photograph Mount Errigal.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan before going for a landscape shooting trip. So many variables play a role when shooting nature and its beauties, it is really impossible to foresee all of them, but here I managed to get just a couple of them right and that was enough to make my day.

I got this image at the end of November. It had been a very rainy autumn, just perfect to raise the level of the water of the lake to reach those two bushes and give a nice reflection to create a more interesting foreground. Moreover the weather forecast suggested snow overnight and rain in the morning. All I needed to do was to be there before sunrise, equipped to protect my gear and myself from the rain, and hope for the sky to clear up and get my shot.

Location: Lake Delewey, at the bottom of Mount Errigal, Donegal Ireland.

What to shoot: Mount Errigal in the background, remember to look for some bush, log or rocks to enhance your foreground.

Ideal time to shoot: Sunrises and sunsets. A day with no wind is ideal to have flat water and better reflections.

Gear: Wide angle lenses to standard zooms.

Coordinates: 55.021319, -8.149150

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